Rice to talk missile, Kosovo issues in Moscow
May 14, 2007 - 2:19:43 PM

Moscow, May 14 - US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during her visit to Moscow Monday will have to tackle number of issues that recently soured bilateral relations between US and Russia.

The issues to be discussed include a proposed US missile shield in Europe, independence for Kosovo and an alleged clampdown on democracy in Russia.

'Russia and the US have many issues that we either cooperate on, or need to review our positions on,' Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Kislyak said. 'These include economic, political and humanitarian issues.'

Ever since President Vladimir Putin surprised the West with his harsh criticism of US foreign policy in a February 10 speech in Munich, Russia has strongly opposed American plans to deploy a missile base in Poland and missile early-warning radar in the Czech Republic.

Moscow has repeatedly expressed concern over the US initiative, warning it could be a 'destabilizing factor' in Europe and could threaten Russia's national security.

In addition, Putin proposed previously that Russia should unilaterally suspend the implementation of the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty - until other parties to the treaty ratify the document.

The CFE was concluded in 1990 by the then-22 NATO members and the now defunct Warsaw Pact to enhance arms control in Europe, and amended in 1999 to take post-Cold War realities into account.

NATO countries have not ratified the new version, demanding that Russia first withdraw from Soviet-era bases in Georgia and Moldova under the so-called Istanbul Agreements.

Another major challenge for Rice during her two-day visit to Moscow will be convincing the Russian leadership to support a draft UN Security Council resolution on Kosovo.

The draft resolution calling for the independence of Yugolsavia's breakaway province was submitted by France, Britain, Germany and the US. Russia is categorically opposed to the independence plan.

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